NMRD Object of the Month: September

Roller Derby dismantles what it means to be ‘feminine’. It mixes adrenaline and ferocity with the provocative. Often, players names are derived from pop-culture references and the bouts are no different. This specific programme draws from the classic romantic genre Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë.

Roller Derby Bout Programme

NMRD Object of the Month: Roller Derby Bout Programme

Roller Derby was born from humble beginnings back in 1933 by Leo Seltzer. As he scribbled down rules on a table cloth in a restaurant in Chicago, he envisioned both men and women competing in a marathon type race – a race of stamina and speed. Initially roller derby was not a rough contact sport and was more similar to the dance marathons that were popping up at the time. Popularity for the game increased during 1930s depression era and it payed relatively well with good benefits. But for women, it was something more. It was a chance to to see women compete in equal measure to men in a sport. 

Roller Derby programme for "Fishnet Burns Night" featuring Auld Reekie Roller Girls' Highland Heathens vs Celtic Chaos

NMRD Object of the Month: Roller Derby Bout Programme

In response to the increasing brutality of the sport, players wear helmets, knee pads, elbow pads, and wrist guards to help minimise injury. Players show off their track rash and bruises proudly as it has become a huge part of the sporting culture. 

GRD v Vagine Regime Bout Programme

NMRD Object of the Month: Glasgow Roller Derby vs Vagine Regime Bout Programme

At its most base roots, roller derby has gender and LGBT+ policies that are the most progressive in any sport. It is a grassroots sport that welcomes all identities. The Vagine Regime is a community within this sport that has taken off and spread all across the world, from North America, to the U.K., and to Australia.

image showing the Sheffield Steel Roller Girls postcards and ephemera

NMRD Object of the Month: Sheffield Steel Roller Girls Postcards

team names can often adopt puns hinting at local cultural references. Bouts and competitions also use cultural references in their names. This highlights the empowering nature of roller derby.
How many references and puns can you spot?

a design by the Severn Roller Torrent showcasing the artistic element of the sport and the 'boutfits' of the players

NMRD Object of the Month: Severn Roller Torrent Artwork

The combination of wearing provocative ’boutfits’ and playing a fierce and violent contact sport helps to challenge gender binary assumptions and heteronormative roles. It shows that women do not need to chose between being sexy and tough. They can be both.
However, in an effort to break the mould and transform from a fun league to a professional one, many teams today are ditching the ‘boutfits’ for more professional and athletic uniforms.

A book about the history of the sport of Roller Derby including its origins in North America through to the present day.

NMRD Object of the Month

In celebration of International Women’s Day on the 8th March 2020, this book details the history of the sport of Roller Derby and helps to illustrate the inclusion of women in this fierce contact sport since the 1930s. Female-led, the sport gained traction in the UK for its punk-rock aesthetic, pop-culture references, inclusivity, and fierce bouts.

Chaos on the Clyde programme in colour print of yellow and blue

NMRD Object of the Month: Chaos on the Clyde Programme

February’s object of the month is the Chaos on the Clyde programme for an International Roller Derby Tournament presented by Glasgow Roller Derby on 25th & 26th August 2012. It features six of Europe’s best roller derby teams from Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Sheffield, London and Stuttgart.